Cooking Around The World For Christmas: A Series About Celebrating Food Culture
Back in September, Mike and I were sitting down to dinner out on our patio here in Vermont with a glass of wine and a delicious Cioppino (one of my favorite Italian meals) in front of us. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, it was the kind we savor knowing that the cold, long days of winter are ahead of us, and I just felt connected.
Connected to my food, my husband, my heritage. I felt connected to my food culture, something that over the years I have reflected on and refined to better understand. You see our food culture is at the foundation of how we experience so much of what is around us, and how we experience time spent with friends and family.
Yet, for so much of the year (here in the USA at least), our various food cultures are attacked by versions of diet culture and other convenience foods that make it almost impossible for someone, let alone a family, to really connect with the greater meaning that their food encapsulates.
While our food helps to nourish and fuel our bodies, it also is a direct reflection of the way in which we experience our local or global environments — something that unfortunately is often overlooked. Because our food in fact is an accumulation of the energy from the sun, the nutrients in our soil, and the water in our rivers. It’s the care and attention of a farmer, and the feeling you get when you sit down to enjoy an intentional meal with friends and family.
Our food is about so much more than how we fuel our bodies, and I believe that it is one of the most powerful gateways that we as people can have to connect with one another, but also with our local environments and the ebbs and flows of the seasons.
Our food cultures all around the world have this special capacity to connect us across cultures and generations. There are very few things that can in fact do that while also bringing people together around a table, which in my mind is what makes celebrating food cultures so important and special.
Which is why that day back in September I couldn’t help but think about how I could better connect people with not only their own food culture, but with the food cultures of people all around the world that they may never know, but may be more alike than they think. As I was thinking of how I could go about doing this it dawned on me that there are a few times throughout the year when people choose to celebrate food culture, and that time is the holidays.
While there are so many holidays that people celebrate all around the world, I knew that I wanted to try and narrow in on one common denominator, one holiday that many people from different countries all around the world celebrate, but in different ways. The answer was Christmas, a holiday that is so special to me as an Italian and Catholic, and a holiday that is celebrated at the same time of year in dozens of countries around the world in different ways.
So I reached out to my community here at The Well Essentials and asked what some of your favorite traditional recipes were that you celebrate with during the Christmas season. I honestly was amazed by how many responses I got back from community members all around the world sharing their favorite cultural foods and recipes, which made me realize just how perfect the holidays were for celebrating all of our unique background and cultures, while also connecting us as people all around the world.
So for the next 25 days until Christmas I will be cooking my way around the world, and will be sharing one new recipe everyday that is enjoyed during the Christmas season from a different country around the world. I already know that this series is going to teach me so much about the many food cultures of the world that I have yet to experience, and I am excited to further connect with some of you all here in my community, as I cook my way through some of your favorite holiday food traditions
Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! This season is for enjoying time spent with friends and family, and I hope that some of these recipes help you do just that.